Last Updated on by Jeremy
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Our journey to first trying Rebulla (commonly known as Ribolla Gialla) was an interesting one.
It started when one of our favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh, the Eastern European vegan joint Apteka (a must-try if you ever visit), expanded their wine to-go menu as the result of 2020's global pandemic. As part of this, they brought in many natural wines from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus which gave us a field day in buying obscure varietals to try.
One of them was Stekar's Rebulla from Slovenia, which we immediately opened to enjoy with a feast from the restaurant. This one was funky and, to be honest, didn't really taste like wine at all!
A Wine That Tastes Like Cider
The first thing you'll notice about this wine, if you don't catch the aroma when pouring at least, is that it is a pale amber color thanks to being processed as an orange wine (a white wine grape made by keeping the skins on).
From there, if you get the glass anywhere remotely close to your nose you're going to notice an intense aroma that is a little funky. If you have ever tried a wild-fermented beer (of which we are big fans), you'll recognize this scent immediately as this wine is seemingly produced in similar fashion. From there, mellow notes of apple, lemon, and herbs come out as well with the wild funk being a dominant feature.
The wild flavors continue when you take a sip with strong apple notes and a lighter funky note. For a split second, we both thought we were drinking a spontaneously fermented cider and had to remind ourselves that we were, in fact, drinking a wine. Wild (pun intended). Undertones of pear and honey were also noted as well as a little effervescence in the glass as well. This one ended up being medium body and very low acidity, and, while fairly dry, felt like there was a bit of residual sugar on the tongue.
Food Pairing – Eastern European Fare and Homemade Chicken
They say that pairing wine with food from its native region is always a great combination, and pairing this Slovenian wine with Eastern European fare (like pierogies and a not-pictured eggplant sandwich) was a hit. Part of this was due to the predominantly apple-forward nature of the wine (and light effervescence) which gives it broad pairing potential, but also because this flavor profile seemed to work well with the herb-heavy nature of our meals.
The only item from this meal that did not pair the best was the Pirozhki as it is a larger fried bun stuffed with vegetables which was a bit too doughy and yeasty and lighter on the herbs than the other dishes we had with our order.
We decided to split this bottle over two meals, and the second dish we paired this wine with was a Vietnamese style chicken thigh cooked in sous vide and finished in a cast iron. The sauce was quite fragrant with soy sauce, garlic, shallots, ginger, spicy pepper, and Thai basil, and the funkiness of the wine accentuated these flavors exceptionally well- specifically the ginger and Thai basil.
So if you are looking at making an herb heavy dish, or perhaps something with a bit of a kick from southeast Asia, this wine may pair quite well. Or any meal you'd otherwise think of pairing with a cider, give this one a go.
Score: 4 / 5
We'd buy another bottle of this one.
Overall, this was a funky bottle of wine and really was up our alley as we are big fans of spontaneously fermented beer. Clearly, we're also fans of spontaneously fermented wine. Did it taste too much like a cider? Angie and I had a debate on that one, and whether that sounds like a good thing to you is probably a good enough deciding factor. That being said, we'd happily have another bottle of this one, and look forward to trying more from this producer in particular as well.
Stekar is located in Goriška Brda, Slovenia. We purchased a bottle from a local restaurant specializing in Eastern European fare and enjoyed it in 2020.